Toronto Maple Leafs: Don’t Get Too Excited

May 14, 2009

By Andrew Echevarria… A couple of weeks ago, Brian Burke announced that he was going to try to move up in the draft and go for Tavares.

Before I go on, let me make it clear that the word “try” is present. “Try” means he will attempt, but there is no guarantee it will happen. It seems that everyone’s already saying “Burke said he’s going to go for Tavares! Tavares is coming to Toronto!”

Unfortunately, Brian Burke is not God (apologies to those who think otherwise). He cannot make a trade happen out of thin air. Sure he can propose a great deal, but if the team doesn’t accept, it doesn’t happen.

There was actually a rumour flying around that the Toronto Maple Leafs were going to make a trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning which would include sending Kaberle, Schenn, and their first rounder for Ryan Malone and a first rounder. However, Burke doesn’t seem ready to give up Schenn just yet, and he still wants to look at other possibilities.

A while back, it seemed like Brian Burke was basically saying he was willing to package Luke Schenn in a deal to get the Isles’ or the Lightning’s first round pick this year. However, all he has said was the Luke Schenn was the closest player to being untouchable.

What does untouchable mean?

It means that he will not be traded no matter what. If a player is untouchable, it means he is a great asset to the team and the team seems to rotate around him. He is worth too much to the team to be traded.

Brian Burke doesn’t seem to think of Luke Schenn that way.

But just because a player isn’t untouchable doesn’t mean he’s up for grabs. Burke definatly values Schenn and sees him as a great player to build around which probably means he will try his best to keep him in Toronto.

So, who exactly is available other than Schenn? Well, a couple of months ago Cliff Fletcher said Nik Antropov was the only top six forward on the team, but he’s gone now. So is a team of third and fourth liners all we have? Of coure not, there are guys like Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin that still have bright futures ahead. Even Ponikarovsky has stepped up and shown what he can do.

If Burke wants to make a good deal, he’ll have to throw in Luke Schenn because we all honestly know that Burke does not want to start giving away draft picks, and there is no way that a team is going to accept a trade just involving current Leafs. Of course, we have our first round pick this year that Burke seems to not mind giving up, but once again, he’ll only give it up if it means Tavares.

Right now everyone’s thinking Burke is going to pull off something big, but he probably won’t. Remember the trade deadline? Everyone thought that he was going to end up bringing in prospects and draft picks, when all he really brought in was acouple of second rounders. Of course, not all of us thought he would be very active at the trade deadline, but the majority did (you know who you are).

So in my opinion, the draft is going to be a big disappointment for those thinking that Burke is going to land Tavares. Maybe if the Leafs still had Mats Sundin, they could pull something off without having to give up Schenn, but for now, Burke is probably going to play it safe, and keep Schenn.

Stay tuned for an interview with Ryan Ellis.

Mccabe More Of A Leaf Than Sundin

January 10, 2009

by Andrew Echevarria…

Was Brian McCabe really more of a Toronto Maple Leaf than Mats Sundin? The answer is yes. I’m not going to start by telling you why, because then most of you won’t bother to read the rest of this article to find out how I arrived at this conclusion.

Let’s start off by taking a look at our controversial character here: Brian McCabe.

The gritty defenseman started his career with the New York Islanders, only two years after being drafted. Years went by and so did his name. He just couldn’t seem to find a home, and the fact that he only managed to get 20-29 points per season didn’t help. He had grit, but that still didn’t make up for it.

Just like a stray dog looking for a new home, Brian McCabe arrived in Toronto. There was no way Brian knew Toronto was going to be his home for the years to come, so he had to show them what he could do.

In his first season in Toronto, he achieved the same number of points he made in his second season in the league; not very impressive with all those years he should’ve improved on, but yet, it he had tied his career high in a new place.

For some players, the higher their PIM is, the better they are, but this didn’t apply for McCabe. Brian McCabe was more of a skilled defenseman than a gritty one. He slowly began to take less penalty minutes and that might’ve been one of the explanations for his improvement.

Getting back to the story, on his second season in Toronto, he achieved a career high of 43 points. During the Leafs’ playoff runs that 2002 year, he also got 10 points in 20 games. Brian McCabe was red hot, but was that as hot as he could get?

His following season seemed to prove some analysts right. Although he only started in 75 games, he finished the season with 24 points.

His penalty minutes increased that season by six, despite having played more games the prior season. There might be a link between penalty minutes and how well he plays eh?

This shouldn’t have taken long for McCabe to figure out, during his next season, he only summed up a total of 86 PIM. His stats were pretty impressible that year; he dug up 53 points out of nowhere. In the playoffs that season, he contributed with eight points in 13 games, better than he had done in previous seasons.

The following season was even more incredible, he piled up 68 points in only 73 games. If Brian McCabe had that season all over again this season, there’s no doubt he would end the season as the No. 1 defensemen in the NHL; points-wise.

You can see that until that point Brian McCabe was a descent player. Everyone thought McCabe would stay in Toronto until he retires, and everyone would live happily ever after.

The End…Or is it?

Nearing the trade deadline of the ‘07-’08 season, Brian McCabe was asked to waive his no trade clause, but he refused.

Brian McCabe was traded to the Florida Panthers in the summer of 2008. In return, the Leafs acquired defenseman Mike Van Ryn and a draft pick.

Not a very good way to treat McCabe, but it seemed to be over.

Mats Sundin’s career is probably more well known that McCabe’s, so I won’t spend much time on it.

Mats Sundin was drafted by the Nordiques in the 1989 NHl Entry draft.

You know how the rest goes, he was later on traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

He served the Leafs for thirteen seasons, and played great in each one. He later went on to become the captain of the Leafs and lead them to the conference finals in 2002.

In the ‘07-’08 season, Mats Sundin had to be traded. The Leafs were beginning to rebuild and they could’ve acquired a nice package that included a draft pick, a prospect, and a roster player heading to Toronto.

This would’ve been easy to do, but the only problem was that Mats Sundin had a no-trade clause.

Mats was asked to waive it, but he refused. He said he didn’t believe in rental players.

The Leafs failed to make the playoffs that season, and Mats Sundin went into questioning his active status in the NHL. Finally, he decided he wanted to return and play hockey, however, all Torontonians lost hope.

December came and Mats Sundin signed with the Vancouver Canucks.

So here we are. We have our two candidates, perhaps my summaries of their hockey careers were rather poor, but everyone knows who they are.

I could just make everyone vote, and then everyone would be happy with the final answer, but no.

Why? Steve Dangle seemed to explain it pretty well “Curtis Joseph leaves Toronto, he’s a villain. Mats Sundin doesn’t want to leave Toronto, he’s a villain.”

Who’s the villain in this case? The grand Leaf captain or the guy who scores on his own net.

In this case, both players left Toronto, but it’s how their departure influenced the team that counts.

Brian McCabe didn’t leave the team for more money like Curtis Joseph. At the trade deadline, he didn’t want to leave, some people might’ve been mad with McCabe at the moment. During September he finally waived it, and yet some people were mad.

It’s between to choices, staying or going.

Brian McCabe stays, everyone hates him.

Brian McCabe goes, everyone still hates him.

Make up your mind people!

Maybe some people still don’t hate him, there was a picture of Brian McCabe put up in the ACC in the game against Florida and people actually cheered. But let’s not forget that every time Brian McCabe touched the puck, the booing started. Not a very nice way to treat a guy who left the team he loved so that he could help give them a future.

Now, let’s look at Mats Sundin.

I’m just going to start of by saying Mats Sundin was a rental player with the Leafs. Yes, all those 13 years he played with the Leafs, he was a rental player.

How so? When rental players are done being rented, they go off and sign with another team. Mats had to finish what he started. If he wanted to leave, he could’ve set up a trade with Cliff Fletcher at the moment.

He could’ve been traded to another team, and once the season ended there, he could sign with Vancouver or whoever he wanted and not be seen as a traitor.

Mats Sundin had lots of value in him, and the least he could’ve done was give us something to remember him with. It’s like a long war; at the end of the war, when your nation wins, you remember all the soldiers that gave up their lives for the best of the nation.

If Mats Sundin isn’t a soldier, then what is he?

Perhaps Mats thought he was going to retire at the end of the season, and didn’t expect to come back. In that case, when he did come back, Toronto obviously wouldn’t have been the right place for him. If Mats Sundin wasn’t expecting to come back, then why didn’t he waive his no-trade clause and get traded?!

Sundin could play until he was 50, or retire the next year, whatever he chose to do, the Leafs would be thankful for him waiving his no-trade clause. When the Leafs would’ve won the Stanley Cup, we’d all think “Mats was a big part of this.”

Feb. 21. That’s the day we’ll see what Toronto thinks. Will Mats be booed or cheered? We’ll have to wait to find out.

Sean Avery: The Next Maple Leafs Hero

December 9, 2008

by Andrew Echevarria… It’s gone far enough. Sean Avery is also hated by his teammates now. Like many bad things in the NHL, everything can be used to an advantage, yes, even this. How you ask? Well, we can use Sean Avery to save our beloved Toronto Maple Leafs.

Before I get a bunch of rude comments on my bulletin board, let me explain. One of the problems with the Leafs (and still is) are players that just won’t leave. With Sean Avery, we won’t even have to ask them to leave!

Players like Jason Blake will definitely have a problem with Sean Avery being on the roster and the only way to get away from him would be to be traded away. If we had thought of this sooner, we could’ve saved the Darcy Tucker buy out and traded him for a draft pick in return. We all saw the rivalry between Darcy and Sean, and all the management had to do was give Avery the No. 16, and Tucker would be dying to leave Toronto.

Not much dead weight left in Toronto anymore, but there are still some guys that probably aren’t going anywhere any time soon. When it comes to Avery however, that could all change. Not only driving our dead weight out, he can also give Toronto the grit we so desperately desire.

What do we do when we’re done using up Avery, and our “good” players are beginning to hate him? Well, by then there will be other teams with similar problems as the Leafs have, leading them to wanting Avery. He’ll definitely be an easy trade for a draft pick of some sort to finish up our rebuilding.

In conclusion, for all of you that think Sean Avery can’t be traded from place to place, just to use him up, look at Hossa, if it works for him, it can work for Avery.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Taking a Look at What We Once Were

November 20, 2008 Andrew Echevarria… With all the confusion and frustration surrounding the Leafs organization, I thought it would be nice to get some positive thoughts into our minds. For starters, I thought I’d share this quick video with you guys. Please watch it before reading the rest of the article. (Sound is recommended).

Take a minute to think about that video. There’s no doubt in my mind that we were once great, but did something happen to us? Where did we go wrong?

Instead of tossing names around and finding people to blame, let’s just think back to those times, the times where we were actually proud to be Leafs fans (we still are, well some of us anyway). We could go simply anywhere wearing a Leafs jersey, and still, be able to lift our heads up with pride.

The first time I saw this video, I was speechless. It was hard to believe those were our Leafs.

Some of us may still remember those days. I sure do, and I was only eight. I remember wearing my jersey every night the Leafs played.

Close your eyes for a minute and imagine the Air Canada Centre. Think about all the former Leafs. Those were the Leafs that played with such passion, and were just fun to watch. And those were the Leafs that took us to the 2002 Conference Finals.

Now, erase that thought and start imagining again, only this time with the present Leafs. That’ll be us soon enough, skating our way into the playoffs, and giving it our very best. We have no Sundin, no Tucker, no Kilger, no Belak, and on top of that, we have no one left from that 2002 team.

However, its a new beginning now. Instead, new guys will now be there, like Nik Hagman, Mikhail Grabovski, Jason Blake, Nik Kulemin, and Vesa Toskala.

We were once great, and can be great again. Even if we don’t win the Stanley Cup in the next decade or so, the Leafs will always be great.

“Man’s greatness lies in his power of thought” — Blaise Pascal